100 days on, Japan crisis lingers

June 18, 2011 11:27 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 02:56 am IST - SINGAPORE:

As Japan on Saturday marked 100 days of civil nuclear radiation crisis, Economy and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda called for “the resumption of operations at the nuclear power plants if their safety is confirmed” in precautionary checks.

Several atomic energy plants suspended operations for safety checks after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.

Some other civil nuclear plants were under routine inspection at the time of the Daiichi melt-down. And, amid the efforts to control the Daiichi nuclear radiation crisis, the worst in the world since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, the Japanese government ordered the shut-down of the Hamaoka nuclear power station by citing the forecast about a possible great earthquake in the plant area within the next 30 years.

This aspect of the Hamaoka shut-down and the rising tide of popular disenchantment with unsafe atomic energy have made the local authorities wary of allowing the re-start of operations at a number of nuclear power plants across the country.

Mr. Kaieda, therefore, wanted local communities to allow civil nuclear plants to operate on the basis of their certified safety so that Japan could be spared an economically-debilitating electricity crisis.

Defective system

Aware of the symbolism of 100 days since the March 11 catastrophe, the Daiichi plant operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, on Saturday suspended a defective new system of decontaminating large quantities of highly-radioactive water at the reactor site. The system was put in place on Friday night in a bid to re-circulate decontaminated water to cool the reactors which had suffered varying degrees of melt-down.

On a related front, the International Atomic Energy Agency intensified preparations for the June 20 global ministerial conference on nuclear safety in the specific context of the Daiichi disaster. In a preliminary report on the disaster, the IAEA praised Japan's overall response as “exemplary” but pointed out that the country had “under-estimated … the tsunami hazard” in respect of several nuclear sites.

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